News | December 2018

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Biomass Bill Wins The Day

Inspired by the support of loggers and timberland owners, the New Hampshire Legislature overrode the Governor’s veto of SB365, a bill that supports the state’s six independent biomass plants and waste-to-energy facility.

“The Legislature made the right call to override the veto of SB365. When you consider the vast impacts this bill has not only on various sectors of NH’s economy, but also on NH’s established and treasured values, the small cost is vastly outweighed by the benefits,” says Jasen Stock, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Assn. (NHTOA). “In addition, the override successfully protects NH from the long-term $17 million annual cost our state would have to pay to replace lost generation capacity. Our state’s forestry, recreation, tourism, and agricultural industries were on the line, and we thank the legislature for hearing the facts and fixing the Governor’s mistake.”

“I’m feeling relieved for the men and women in the forest industry, and I was proud to stand with the men and women in forestry and fight this good fight,” says Tom Thomson, an Orford tree farmer and son of the late Gov. Mel Thomson. Thomson helped organize foresters and supporters of the bill, which will require utilities to purchase a portion of their electricity from the state’s wood-burning power plants.

Pinnacle signed new long-term contracts totaling $2.2 billion with new customers in Asia during Q2 2018, including its first long-term contract in South Korea, representing the first long-term industrial wood pellet contract to ever be signed in that market. With the inclusion of these new contracts, which have longer terms than Pinnacle’s existing contracts and extend past 2030, the weighted average remaining life of the company’s portfolio of off-take contracts has been extended from seven years to more than nine years.  

Supporters of the bill, including the state’s six independent chip-burning plants, warned that Governor’s Sununu’s veto would make it difficult to continue operations without the assured income. In the wake of the veto, four out of six biomass companies either closed or partially closed.

Sununu had argued the bill would amount to a subsidy that could cost bill payers $25 million annually over the legislation’s three-year lifespan.

The bill requires electric distribution companies to offer to purchase energy output of eligible biomass power facilities as well as facilities that produce electricity using municipal solid waste as a primary energy source.

The bill had stated: “The continued operation of the state’s six independent biomass-fired electric generating plants and the state’s single renewable waste-to-energy generating plant are at-risk due to (natural gas) energy pricing volatility. These plants are important to the state’s economy and jobs, and, in particular, the six biomass-fired generators are vital to the state’s sawmill and other forest products industries and employment in those industries…and are also important to state policies because they provide generating fuel diversity and environmental benefits, which protect the health and safety of the state’s citizens and the physical environment of the state.”

Westervelt Sells 70% Of Pellet Operation

Pinnacle Renewable Holdings Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire a 70% interest in Westervelt’s active industrial wood pellet production facility in Aliceville, Ala. Westervelt will retain a 30% interest.

The Aliceville Facility has an annual production capacity of 270,000 metric tons, of which 210,000 metric tons is committed under a long-term off-take contract to a major European utility. The remaining production volume from the Aliceville facility will be sold through Pinnacle’s contracted backlog of long-term, take-or-pay off-take contracts.

Westervelt is currently ramping up production at the facility. Pinnacle is partnering with Westervelt to optimize asset configuration, distribution logistics and fiber supply.

“Our acquisition of a majority stake in this facility will increase our production capacity and establishes a platform for Pinnacle’s future growth in the U.S. Southeast, one of North America’s key fiber baskets,” comments Robert McCurdy, Chief Executive Officer of Pinnacle. “Through this transaction, we are also pleased to form a partnership with Westervelt, a leading forestry and land resource company in the region.”

McCurdy says the companies will also explore other growth opportunities in Alabama and Mississippi.

As part of the transaction, and consistent with Pinnacle’s operating strategy, the Aliceville facility has now entered into long-term wood fiber supply contracts for residuals with several large local sawmills. Westervelt’s sawmill, located in Moundville, Ala., will remain an anchor supplier.

Union Denouces Biomass Mill Closure

The Power Workers’ Union released a statement that the decision by Ontario Power Generation to close the world’s largest generating station to be converted from coal to advanced biomass in Thunder Bay, Ontario is short-sighted.

“It will ultimately lead to the disappearance of the region’s established biomass innovation cluster and most importantly the significant economic, environmental and social benefits it provides,” states PWU president Mel Hyatt. “We believe it’s time to grow these benefits, not kill them.”

In late May 2018, OPG reported significant corrosion damage was found to the boiler at Thunder Bay Generating Station, making the plant non-operational. Because of the high capital repair costs, high operational costs and limited time remaining on the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator) contract for Thunder Bay Generating Station, OPG and IESO determined that shutting down the station was in the best interests of electricity customers.

OPG reported that repairs to the station would take six months, leaving only one year remaining for the IESO contract. Also, OPG says that because of a lack of demand, Thunder Bay Generating Station is rarely used for electricity generation.

OPG said the decision will save Ontario electricity customers $40 million and avoid $5 million in costs to OPG.

• Petitions were circulated for loggers, mills and others to use to gather signatures in support of the veto override. The NHTOA will be gathering and presenting these to legislators in advance of the veto override vote.

Power Workers’ Union says that over the last decade Ontario invested about $200 million in the region’s biomass innovation cluster, most of it for the conversion of the publicly-owned Thunder Bay and Atikokan stations to biomass. Millions of dollars were also invested in innovative biomass research at Confederation College, Lakehead University and the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-economy.

Biomass Power Plant Goes Forward

Sparkling Biomass B.V. is starting construction of a 15 MW biomass-fired combined heat and power plant in Duiven, the Netherlands. In mid-2022, this “new generation” installation constructed by Dutch firm, HoSt, will be commissioned and will be able to combust both wood and other biomass and residues.

The produced heat, electricity and steam from wood waste derived from the municipality of Duiven and its surrounding areas will be supplied to the mill, while the remaining green electricity is supplied to the grid. In the future, the installation can be connected to the district heating network of Arnhem and Nijmegen.

The installation will be equipped with an advanced technology that enables other types of biomass and residues to be combusted in the future. The installation will be built in an existing building near a nature reserve, which means stricter emission requirements. The reuse of the empty factory hall is an additional sustainable benefit.

Fram Will Take On Fourth Mill

Georgia Dept. of Economic Development (GDEcD) reports that Archer Forest Products, a division of Fram Renewable Fuels, a supplier of wood pellets to the European industrial market and domestic markets, has acquired the bankrupt SEGA Biofuels operation in Brantley County, Ga. and will create 35 jobs and invest $15 million the operation.

Archer Forest Products will be Fram’s fourth wood pellet production facility. Fram operates Appling County Pellets, Hazlehurst Wood Pellets and Telfair Forest Products.

Biosyl Upgrades Pellet Operation

Biosyl, a leader in the field of renewable energy from biomass and the production of wood pellets in France, has accepted its second ClassiSizer from Dieffenbacher. Biosyl operates one of the country’s largest pellet plants in Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire, about 200 km south of Paris.

Ordered in 2017, the ClassiSizer provides Biosyl with a capacity of more than 10 t/h b.d. The unit can handle heterogeneous raw materials, various chips dimensions and different wood species. Depending on the machine configuration, either dry, wet or both materials can be processed. The high-quality flakes produced by the ClassiSizer can be dried by a drum or a belt dryer in the downstream production process.

Kent Renewable Starts Operation

Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) announced that the combined heat and power plant (CHP) Kent Renewable Energy, with a capacity of 27 MW, has successfully commenced operations.

Kent Renewable Energy is located in Sandwich, Kent, England and produces renewable heat and power which is delivered to nearby business and science park, Discovery Park, and to local power consumers connected to UKPN’s grid. Fuel is locally sourced wood supplied by EuroForest.

The plant commenced commercial operations on September 13, only 25 months after financial close and two months ahead of schedule. The EPC contractor BWSC has successfully led the construction and taken the plant into commercial operations with a very impressive safety culture with zero Lost Time Incidents. BWSC will continue as the O&M contractor.

Peterson Hosts Eighth Graders

On October 10 Peterson Pacific hosted 75 eighth grade students from Madison Middle School out of the 4J School District in Eugene, Ore. for a two-hour manufacturing day event. Student groups rotated every 20 minutes to the following featured sessions:

• Tape measure reading lesson and measuring exercise.
• Engineering lesson to learn about the elements of a strong, stout design that is easy to manufacture and maintain.
• South Shop Facility tour to see how metal is cut, formed and welded into Peterson products.
• North Shop facility tour to see how machines are painted, and assembled into complete, working chippers and grinders.
• A Peterson machine demo to see how main components of machines work via remote control.

Presonal protective equipment (PPE) was required for all attendees, with safety glasses and ear plugs provided by Peterson.

“The students left our facility with knowledge about the manufacturing industry they did not have before,” Peterson stated.

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